Above: Tyree and Ricardo in action at the 3-short wall game. A visible and exhausted Bastidas plays with a wet shirt on and no gloves.
Photos by Keith Thode.
Many people always wonder why Tyree never plays the best big ball players of the short walls 3-wall game, while only a few people wonder why the big ball players of the west never challenge Tyree in the east.
The answer is very simple: Tyree can’t fit every tournament in his busy handball schedule. And although, no player from the west has dared to fly east to challenge Tyree in his game in the past few years, Tyree has brought his game (1-wall) west via WPH 3WallBall Championships to Las Vegas. Again, no players from the west dared to challenge him.
It’s is very obvious that players from the west won’t even think about challenging Tyree, but that doesn’t stop Tyree from challenging them in their own game at their own courts.
On October 25, Tyree flew to California two play in two events (the maximum allowed). He won his first big ball 3-wall singles match along his 4-wall doubles match.
On October 26, Tyree took on one of the best big ball players of the west, Jose Venegas, who is not stranger to finals and semifinals. It took a long time for Tyree to put away this player on Saturday morning, but it also took a lot of Tyree as the match ended up in a thrilling tiebreaker as reported by WPH Player and Commentator, David Fink.
One of the best showings of Mr. Venegas during the year was at the WPH National 3-Wall Big Ball Championships at Venice Beach, California, where he reached the semis but lost to eventual champion Samson Hernandez. JoseVenegas reaches third place at big ball nationals
Right after the conclusion of the 3-wall singles match, Bastidas was called indoors to continue playing the scheduled semifinals of the 4-wall pro stop which also ended up in another long match (tiebreaker). Because of Bastidas’ back-to-back matches, his next 3-wall singles match was delayed even further until he had finished his 4-wall tiebreaker.
Ricardo Ruiz, one of the best big ball players of the west waited patiently for Tyree to finish his match. Mr. Ruiz didn’t challenge himself to play in two events and was fresh and ready to take on Tyree to advance to the next round and be among the best four players.
A big audience had also built up in anticipation for Tyree’s and Ricardo’s match. Everyone was anticipating an easy win for a very fresh Ruiz over a very exhausted Tyree. They were wrong.
From the very beginning of the game, Tyree started dominating the game, dictating the pace and leading the score.
As Tyree Bastidas was leading for more than half of the first game, the rowdy crowd had become silent as if the game was being played in the middle of a cemetery. Believers and non-believers were astonished and petrified to watch Tyree dismantle Ruiz right in from of their eyes.
Ricardo Ruiz has always been considered among the best big ball players from the west, but he would have never found out how his game fared against the best players of the east, had Tyree not entered the big ball 3-wall game.
As the game continued to be dominated by Tyree almost to the end of it, the inevitable happened. Tyree’s body started to give up on him and started to cramp as he was leading 17-14. That’s right; you read it correctly, 17-14.
Bastidas couldn’t continue the game and eventually lost 21-17, as well as the second game. The next day, he also had to forfeit the 4-wall doubles prize-money match for third place.
On the other hand, Mr. R. Ruiz went on to defeat Juan Santos to reach the championship match only to lose to Samson Hernandez.
Congratulations to Tyree for always challenging the best big ball players on his handball journey around the globe.
Photo by Bill Fand
It’s hard to believe how time flights, but it’s been a year since the world championships took place in Europe in October of last year.
It was perhaps the biggest handball event ever organized in the history of the game. It also marked the best performance ever of a handball player.
Tyree Bastidas, an open player from New York, was the only player in the world to compete in the most open events in more than one handball version with two different handballs (small and big balls). He became the youngest player to slam (won singles and doubles) in any handball version in the history of the world championships. He also became the only player to slam in the men’s open in Ireland on 2012. No other player has ever had a terrific performance as Tyree did at the world championship level.
Why did the world handball championships in Ireland become so successful?
The answer is 1-wall. Because organizers decided to include small and big ball 1-wall events, players turned out in record numbers.
Even Bastidas is surprised to know that he’s accomplished all of the above exactly one year ago. He is expected to break more records and bring more action and excitement to Canada when he defends his titles at the 15th World handball championships edition.
He’s hoping that Canadian Handball Officials also realize the benefits of including small and big ball 1-wall events at the next World handball championships to be held in 2015.
Photos by Albert Apuzzi
Anna Calderon is the best 1-wall player in the Association. Her record speaks for itself. She amassed a record number of national titles before she retired in the 80’s.
We never got to see her play while in her teens, but we did get to see her play when she made a comeback to the game. We got to watcher play 1-wall in 2004 and 2005, and even saw her play in Toledo in 2005 when the great Vince Munoz retired from 3-wall national competition. The last time we saw Anna play was at the Albany Open (4-wall) in 2005.
She is definitely an all-around player in the USHA, and we can only imagine how good she was when she was at her best.
Perhaps the best way to describe her as a person and as a player is by reading the following write-up by Ben, a very well known writer for the 1-wall handball community.
Photos by Albert Apuzzi.
By Ben Brighton
Most people take the safe road in life, not straying too far off the path, fearing the unknown. Then there are those individuals who defy society’s rules and norms of behavior and seek their own path. These players become pioneers and role models; but at the time are just doing what they love. Think of Amelia Earhart; astronaut Sally Ride or one of our greatest female athletes Babe Dedrickson Zaharias.
That brings us to our honored guest, Anna Calderon. Anna dominated women’s handball in the 80s.While we would occasionally hear of a talented female player from the past; at the Coney Island courts, Anna set the standards for the blossoming women’s game.
A tomboy on the streets of Brooklyn her family must have been alarmed, waiting for her to trade in her shorts and sneakers for a wedding dress and children.
At first looked upon as a novelty and curiosity; she quickly won over skeptics with her athleticism, tenacity, and great personality.
Honing her skills against men, both in park games and tournaments, strengthened her resolve to get better. No male ever wanted to lose to her and be subjected to jokes. With her tremendous serve, power, and quickness she made skeptics believers.
She won every singles tournament, both indoors and outdoors, that was held. Soon she ventured into 3 & 4-wall competition to see how far her talents could take her forming friendships with Rosemary Bellini and other stars.
At the peak of her abilities she left the sport for personal reasons. She returned almost two decades later determined to get herself into top condition. After grueling training sessions and many $5 games with me she returned to tournament play with success. Partnering with young Theresa McCourt she captured another 3 National titles. But more importantly she saw in Theresa similarities to her own difficult life. Just like Albert Apuzzi supplied guidance and support, for his then girlfriend Anna, she was the same calming and steadying influence for Theresa, both on and off the court. The lessons were well learned, as Theresa is a fine member of the NYPD.
But once and again Anna was forced to leave the game she loves, because of health concerns. The only opponent she couldn’t beat.
She remains a regular presence at our annual 4th of July BBQs manning the grill all day, handing out warm greetings and stories along with plates of food. She is also raising a son Raymond, who possesses all the wonderful traits and personality she has. Once again, thanks for the $5 for playing Raymond.
At many testimonials they only focus on the accomplishments of the honored guest. Perhaps because their character is lacking. But Anna is one of the most beloved people in the handball fraternity and deserves every accolade coming her way.
P.S. Sorry I wasn’t there Anna, you know how people say I don’t have a thing to wear. Well, I really don’t have a thing to wear. If the food is good will someone wrap me up a plate and bring it to Coney Island.
Photos by Dan Gebben
Mr. O’Donnell finally captured the title that has been eluding him for the past six years.
He disposed of of an ailing Iglesias in the semis to earn entry into the championship match he’s played several times.
On the other side of the draw, an ailing Tyree Bastidas was battling Mr. Schneider.
In the end, Bastidas prevailed over a very exhausted Schneider.
In the final game, Bastidas had to forfeit during his second game due to extreme pain on his shoulder.
We asked Jonathan and Tyree; why did you come and play knowing you were hurt?
Both players acknowledged they weren’t suppose to play, but went the extra mile to be part of this great tournament.
“My shoulder was hurting since I played in the Simple Green, but I didn’t want to miss this tournament. It’s the best” Tyree said.
“My neck has been bothering for a while and since I haven’t been in this tournament for a few years, I took a chance. It was worthy. I love this tournament.” Jonathan said.
Congratulations to the new champion.
Photos by Bill Fand and others.
The 1-wall national was played under bright skies during the fall, just like in 2006, when it was moved from August to September because of the World championships in Canada.
This time the date was moved due to the World games held in Cali, Colombia, where 1-wall was played and introduced to the masses for the first time.
There were players from other states vying for titles during the five day tournament, where locals got to enjoy the beach during the sunny days.
Absent from the game: John Wright.
Ongoing tradition: The 1-wall national continues to be the only tournament (men’s open divisions) in the U.S. never captured by players outside NY.
National champions who returned to open competition: S. Jagnandan (1-wall), and S. Au (3-wall).
Milestones: Tyree Bastidas becomes the only player in the Association to capture all summer singles titles in the same year.